Sunday, December 12, 2010

Olive harvest!

It's olive harvesting time in Davis! Last weekend housemates at Sunwise joined the community picking efforts around campus and gathered 42 Lb of olives, enough to make 3 quarts of fresh olive oil. More olive picking for drying and eating now underway! Below, Erica and Ashely perfect their harvesting strategies.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cats and Meetings

Another great reason for making it to those long board meetings at J Street:
Yes, that's right, a cute and friendly cat will curl up on your lap and fall asleep purring softly.  This is Coo, who has been a J street resident for a couple months, making him by no means the newest J street resident but certainly the envy of every Sunwiser (including those too allergic to live with such cuteness!)

Rumor has it that there's a lot going on in SCHA right now, building a new co-op and managing interns and outreach and all.  Apparently there's even a new fancy-smancy web-page being built: currently you can preview it at before it goes live on the web at the official address; but you've all ready found the home of the real news in these houses.  Bike rides to Winters, picking and pressing olives for oil, and a Sunwise early thanksgiving all coming up.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Halloween and other happenin's

It's been an exciting Fall at the Sunwise Co-op, somehow haven't managed to sneak into the journal with some updates for a while.  Halloween is always a special time in the community -- when a young boy stopped Derek in the garden and asked for an encore of last year's vomiting pumpkin, Derek delivered in style:

This pumpkin is feeling a little sick....

Our three pumpkins greeted more children than we had candy, before they wandered off to join the Village Homes annual pumpkin parade of all the neighborhood pumpkins, amid kids and popcorn the following evening:

See more in the Derek's Sunwise photos from this fall, with narrative-style captions.

Friday, October 15, 2010

It's Open Access Week at Sunwise

Open Access takes on a brand new meaning at our house...
after we messed up the chicken coop combination lock and were unable to get in for a week, someone had to do the inevitable: take out the entire latch+lock! But...our historical latch was now unusable, and chickens are too smart not to get out from a semi-closed door...
What's more...someone put a juicy prize on the challenge of separating lock and latch (nothing less than a long-term title of king*, with open choice of what to associate it with). Lady Betta did not resist the urge to fight this important battle of honor and dubious practical reward, and armed with time-tested technology (top right in picture) restored the right order of things. Now peace and prosperity can reign over the lands. Let's rejoice.

* regretful sign of distrust in female leadership? John Knox, I'll kick your darn a*s.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

First big OpCo work weekend spearheads the greenest - and most fun- retrofit in town!

After moving houses, pouring foundations, and sloowly lowering the houses to ground level, what shall we do? well, what about smashing all the walls and ceilings? besides being everyone's dream work day (don't do this at home now), that's what needs to be done to retrofit the houses with state-of-the-art insulation, and to reshape rooms
to meet the new household

The long hours and the intense work-out did not deter the brave volunteers,
who hammered, pulled, tossed, scraped, slashed, moved, banged, sawed, and carried wheelbarrows with great skill and virtue. Long repressed frustrations vanished each time the hammed shattered the plaster. Growls, cheers, and songs filled the balmy air.

All interspersed with music, games, great food, and alien jokes! 43 volunteers were hammering away on saturday, about 30 on sunday. The result? interior walls stripped
to the studs, ceilings too, old insulation and wiring taken out. All waste materials were separated and recycled. Doors and trims were saved for reuse.

Thanks to everyone that came out, you made a big difference and we hope you had a great time. Stay tuned for the next event! In the meantime, I think we all earned a looong stretch of sleep, so good night!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Saga of Pete the Rooster

When Sunwise started raising four chicks this past Spring, no one knew what to expect.  No one, that is, except our neighbor Scarlet's little nephew.  You see, Scarlet was helping us raise the four chicks, and named each one of them according to their color.  Except her nephew insisted this little dark chick be called Pete, despite the supposed near-guarantee that they were all hens.  Well, he knew.

Little Pete grew and grew, and soon none of us could deny that cock-a-doodle-do in the morning or the way he strutted around the coop.  Roosters aren't exactly included in regulations, and his morning habits would soon prove a challenge to many.

We tried many things.  He was carefully boxed up in the coop each night, to be released only at a decent hour.  We spoke to local farms to see if they would take him, but none could promise that more than a stew-pot awaited.  We resigned ourself to his fate and scheduled a good friend to come over and give him the final rites of his kind.

Then on the same day, the student farm replied that they had recently lost their rooster!  Pete was saved! This morning, Derek took the lucky bird to his new home.  Derek writes:

The Pete saga (as far as Sunwise goes) is over. He has had many firsts today:

  • first time being caught as an adult
  • first time being put in a box
  • first time in a car in a box
  • first time in a moving car in a box
  • first time he did not make any sounds for more than 30 minutes
  • first time seeing his new home (Ecological Garden at Student Farm....who knows, maybe you'll hear him if you are on that side of campus)
  • first time he gets his wings clipped (I have a feather for each of you)
  • first time he takes a crap at his new home
  • first time he meets the Student Farm hens
  • first time he'll "Cock-a-doodle-doooooo"s on campus

Last time I mention Pete in an email...

Thanks for being patient with our rooster friend!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Concrete is poured!

Foundations are set... just a few weeks, and the houses won't be on stilts anymore and the interior works will begin. join the big work party on September 11-12!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Co-ops and Village Harvest cooperate?

Village Harvest, a Davis non-profit dedicated to harvesting fruit that would otherwise go to waste from trees of local homeowners, approached the board of Solar Community Housing Association to provide space for their harvest and tools on the new lot.  As a resident-owned cooperative, the ultimate decision belongs to the residents on how their space will be used.  Think this is a good idea?  Let us know your thoughts!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Works begin at the new lot!

This beautiful sign hand-painted by Danielle Fodor welcomes every curious passerby wondering what in the world will happen on this land...
Like the most rare collectors' coins, this work of art also contains a funny mistake...can you catch it?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Tour De Cluck!

Sunwise Chickens star on the front page of the Enterprise for their participation in the first annual Davis Tour de Cluck, a bicycle powered tour of backyard chicken coops. Over six months in planning, the event was epic, with its 500 tickets selling out weeks in advance and riders coming from as far as LA to participate (the tour was a fundraiser for the Farm to School connection).    The Tour fell on Sunwise work day, and our four new chicks spent their first day in the sun helping weed in the chicken tractor while some 300 cyclists came by to check them out!  See if you can spot them in this music video of the Tour:

All Clucked Up! from Rusty Rogers on Vimeo.

The film-maker Alvin Remmers also documented much of the tour, look out for his entry in the Davis Bicycle film festival next October!  Read more about the tour on Davis Voice blog

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Socks seeking mates

With eight people doing laundry and everything being line dry, there's a lot of shuffle of clothing.   Spring brings leaves to the trees and color to the handsome outside lines.  Rains send the laundry scattering back inside.  And in the chaos, the inevitable stragglers are always the socks.  It's a tough life being a sock.  That's why we all almost fell over laughing when we encountered this ingenious board setup by April, our newest housemate!  Below a sign reading "Socks Seeking Mates" are single socks with cute personal ads pinned below them.  So next time you see a lonely blue sock, you can't help but remember it's partner on the board! 

Sunwise-print reusable vegetable bags

Unveiled at the last house meeting -- the much anticipated reusable cloth bags for produce purchases!  The bags are hand sewn by our very own Barb who also screen printed each with a handsome rooster above the words "Sunwise Coop."  A promising step in our waste-reduction campaign!  Swapping chores on the pegboard in the foreground. 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

your neighborhood whysical inventor!

Zero Waste Report #1

I've started to empty the contents of the trash can onto the kitchen counter every week to identify ways to reduce our impact; because we compost all our food scraps, what ends up in the trash can is mostly non-recyclable or flimsy plastic in its different manifestations. Recently Erica went shopping and didn't come home with a single plastic bag!! That practice will drastically reduce our contributions the landfill. A Zero Waste Co-op is possible, but will require us to become more conscious of what we buy and to plan ahead (bringing jars, re-using bags, etc.). Thanks for working with me, Sunwise, to make this house as close to zero waste as possible.

New Food Culture board

A new Sunwise tradition: add the leftover label to the board and over time we will see the diversity that makes up the Sunwise Food Culture!

a place of learning

some of the most beautiful things in the world require a microsope to see...silverberry scale hairs, kombucha mothers, and different pollens are being examined by the unofficial Sunwise Microbiology team, including Betta, Erica, and Derek

Some of the beauty of Villages Homes and the Sunwise Garden!

I just overheard someone bike by our house and say, "the people that live here must love it!" Here are some pics of the spring life in Village Homes as well as Erica in the bountiful Sunwise Garden. We are in the middle of spring planting and what you can see includes a lot of the winter plants that have gone to flower. The cabbage is still going strong, the potatoes recently surfaced, the lettuce is plentiful, the starts are waiting to go in the ground, and flowers and bees are mixed in wherever you look.

some updates from March and April...

Some random pics from March/April:

Shaun polishing the tub (FYI, it's clean but slippery!), the new bench we made for the new "chill spot" out front (also includes a hammock!), Carl and one manifestation of his new haircut, our youngest new neighbor (Catherine's new cat), and 15 or so people showed up for Barb's painting workshop on a rainy Sunday morning.

Love your Mother

Kombucha mothers take care of you as long as you take care of them! Show them some love.

more pics of the DCCN network meeting:

Community Service: weeding for the neighbors!

First Fancy Pants our chicken was asked to do some weeding with the mobile chicken tractor...

then Barb took care of the rest by using the weed wacker! Thanks Barb for putting in a day for the gardens!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Davis Cooperative Community Network!

"What started as some words over coffee, a discussion over a shared slice of pizza, we want to replicate here..."
Luis Sierra, a member of Dos Pinos began to share how the Cooperative Network idea started.  Luis invites us to discuss at our tables what challenges we had in our own organizations and what opportunities the Davis Cooperative Community Network might provide to addess them. 

 34 of us sat around half a dozen tables in a mix of friends and new faces.  We'd gone around and introduced ourselves, our backgrounds and co-op experiences. We hailed from:
  • Dos Pinos
  • former Pacifico residents
  • SCHA (Sunwise, J Street, former-Homestead)
  • N Street
  • former Muir Commons
  • former Domes
  • Tri Co-ops
  • Butterpat
  • Bicycle Collective
Different members spoke the story of their co-ops, some inspiring and some tragic, and some both at once.  The designed-to-fail Homestead with it's amazingly ambitious vision; the rebirth of the bike collective with support of the cooperative community; the successful organizing to protect the Davis Student Co-op from campus expansion plans for another year and the need for further support from alumni and the cooperative family.  The impending forclosure of DATCHA.  Perhaps more than any other, the sudden adoption of the struggling Pacifico by the City, with the opportunity and financial support to really turn it around or lose it forever. 

For the next thirty minutes the room was abuzz with different discussions around each table.  Sharing stories and ideas, asking questions; everyone feeling the energy of so many people and groups, no one with any idea what to expect. 

As we came back together to share our brainstorm, we quickly filled up the flip-chart pages with challenges: Food issues, lack of experiences, member training, balancing rules and traditions, transitioning from housemates to homeowners through different cooperative models, the power and danger of shared assets, financial commitment, architectural challenges, bad apples.

The opportunities that followed weren't only lose ideas, but plans for future meetings.  Network workparties -- dinners followed by banging out a certain task -- letters to editors and active lobbying on behalf of co-ops, a centralized website to share practices, applicants; a web of consulting, a brain trust. 

Where will this go?  None of us are certain.  There's a plan for a second meeting next month, and several groups already volunteering to host.  There's an grant application already filed with DFC for a cooperative network workshop.  There's a mailing list, some energetic people, and a host of issues to tackle.  Who knows what we can't do?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Monday, April 5, 2010

WestCo Co-op Conference

This past weekend Davis hosted WestCo, the regional co-op conference. Detailed event listings are on the Conference Schedule. On Saturday afternoon a few dozen people mounted the various wild and crazy whymcycles generously provided by Peter Wagner to ride out to Sunwise for Derek's highly anticipated Bee Workshop!

Though clad head to toe in his protective bee suit, Derek opens the hive and handles the frame with bare hands. He explains:

"I have better dexterity this way, so I'm less likely to crush any bees and make other bees mad at me."

He handles the bee-covered frames with ease and without incident, even catching one of the stinger-less drones gently between his fingers to pass around to the audience. In his final act, Derek demonstrates how to remove a bee stinger from his own arm -- once he finally manages to persuade an old bee to sting him!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

OpCo Update: Planning Application is IN!

For about a year now, SCHA has been working on plans to build a new cooperative (affectionately named Operation Co-op, or 'OpCo' for short..) across the street from our existing J St. co-op at 3rd & J Streets in Old East Davis.

The City, by award of the City Council back in August '09, is donating two lots in the form of a 90-year lease, while the developers of a project on B St. are gifting two historic houses - one of them to be designated an 'historic merit resource' at the new location - along with a cash donation to the project. Our task is to move the buildings seven blocks to the site, set them down on new foundations, retrofit them with the highest level of sustainable technology that we can, and turn the two houses into an 8-bedroom co-op.

We've been at it for months now budgeting, creating drawings for the project, working with our local credit union to secure financing, and reaching out to our community, but this week marks a big success: our planning application is complete!

Take a look at the drawings for our little coop-to-be...and keep an eye out for updates in the coming weeks!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Passing of the Sun

We've turned the lights off. The buzz of the sauna party hits a momentary pause, one more group of towel wrapped guests shuffles in and eyes turn to Andy holding a candle and a large plastic sun -- once rescued from a dump and now a rather functional bookend in the cookbook library and erstwhile symbol of the house. Derek explains the tradition: the departing member of Sunwise passes the sun to the incoming resident, welcoming them into the house.

Andy, our dear friend and resident of Sunwise since his birthday, (May 4th 2009), is now moving on to a new job in Seattle. Andy has brought great things to Sunwise and we hope many will live on as traditions -- from his beer-brewing to his passion for board games to the nature videos on Friday evenings. Other things will be irreplaceable: the smile from the breakfast table as he looks up from his book, always an early riser. His hippie loaf and salsa recipes have been added to the Sunwise cookbook, and his brewmaster log has been carefully photocopied, but will miss his company, his relaxed optimism, and unshakable good humor. Last but certainly not least, we'll miss that mobile sauna so!

He passes the sun to the newest Sunwiser who will take his place in April. auspiciously named April. Welcome to Sunwise, April!

How to catch a bee swarm

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sunwise Bees swarm!

Looks like one of our front bee boxes swarmed today.  Good sign of a healthy colony.  Think it's the small box.  Here they are circling, though rapidly settling down onto the hedgerow of the graden.  We'll see if we can get organized quickly enough to box them.  J Street Co-op needs a new swarm...

Bikers and runners have been passing with curious caution on the bike path, and Andy's already been notified and emailed the house.  Bee networks in action!